Is Pizza a Vegetable?
I was catching up on some reading this weekend, including some old newspapers and a few websites I had added to my "must-read" list but did not have a chance to read until now, before the chaotic holidays begin. I also caught up on some TV shows I taped and a few small projects around the house, including finally hanging some curtains in the office (thermal, to keep the house warmer this winter!).
One of the news articles I read this weekend - which you have probably heard about by now - was the proposal by Congress that pizza would be considered a vegetable in school lunch menus. In late November, Congress stated that the tomato paste used in pizza is sufficient enough to be considered a vegetable. While the Department of Agriculture suggested many ways this summer to improve lunch menus provided by schools, Congress voted otherwise.
My heart is breaking! I literally cannot believe such a common-sense improvement to the nutrition provided to children would be unsupported by our government. Now, I'm not about to turn this into a political debate (we all have differences), but I would hope in my heart of hearts that common sense would prevail. Congress disagrees. Obviously there are two sides to every story. There are massive costs involved in providing lunches across the nation. There are logistical challenges in getting fresh food into cafeterias. There are many factors to consider - many of which I am not familiar with. It's an overwhelming task to revamp cafeteria food, and I'm glad it's not my job!
This topic kind of ties in with my blog from a week or two ago, about the dangers of bad research. Now that Congress has called pizza a vegetable, people are going to say "Well, Congress says it's a vegetable, so it must be OK to eat," and the obesity epidemic will continue to threaten the health of our nation. We have to be advocates and correctly educate others about nutrition and moderation. As physical therapists, we have to lead by example by eating healthy meals and providing our patients with budget-friendly nutritious recipes they can cook for their own families.
So this holiday season, challenge yourself to offer healthy options at the dinner table. Be sure to have lots of real vegetables on hand!